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Improving access to scientific research: Open Pharma resource available

Open access publishing has been gaining momentum over recent years. A survey by the Wiley Network last year concluded that open data is “here to stay”, with over half of respondents believing that “open data is more important now than it was 12 months ago”.

The Open Pharma collaboration between healthcare stakeholders launched a position statement in 2019, advocating for open access (OA) publishing of pharma-based research to improve transparency, advance scientific knowledge and improve patient care. One year on, during Open Access Week 2020, they released a set of educational slides ‘Open access. The new standard for pharma publications’ to help further their objectives.

The presentation provides an overview of what OA means for pharma, healthcare stakeholders and patients, highlighting features such as accessibility, equity, trust, scientific exchange and improved patient care. The authors note that paywalls may prevent research from being accessed by key groups, including patients and their families, patient advocates, policymakers, academic researchers, healthcare professionals, and journalists or other communications professionals. In addition to ensuring that research is made available to those who need it, other benefits of OA encompass increased citations, social media activity and downloads by healthcare professionals.

The group suggests several steps that pharma can take to drive change towards increased OA using the acronym BECAUSE:

  • Build infrastructure to increase accessibility and discoverability.
  • Engage with academics, prescribers, patients and the public.
  • Campaign by telling publishers what you want and why it will benefit them.
  • Advocate within the community for OA.
  • Understand details to allow credible discussions.
  • Standardise OA via publication policies.
  • Educate others on the benefits of OA publishing whenever possible.

The authors acknowledge the possible barriers to OA and suggest ways in which these can be overcome:

  • OA is not always available to industry-funded research: select a journal that permits commercially funded research to be published OA and choose the least restrictive OA license offered.
  • Journal embargo periods: select a journal with no or minimal embargo period.
  • Cost of OA fees: consider increasing OA budgets given the possible increased reach of articles.

The authors encourage pharma companies to mandate OA and to publish their research in a transparent, accessible, timely, efficient and sustainable manner. They conclude by asking readers to endorse the Open Pharma position statement or get involved with conversations @_OpenPharma. You can also find out more about OA in the pharma industry and Open Pharma’s progress by watching the MedComms Networking webinar entitled “Publishing open access saves lives”.


Summary by Jo Chapman PhD from Aspire Scientific


With thanks to our sponsor, Aspire Scientific Ltd


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